Fauci calls signs from South Africa on omicron 'encouraging'
- Anthony Fauci said Sunday early signs from South Africa signaling the severity of the omicron coronavirus variant are encouraging.
- Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper that it is “too early to really make any definitive statements about” the variant first detected in South Africa.
- Yet despite a “transmission advantage,” Fauci said it “does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it.”
White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Sunday early signs from South Africa signaling the severity of the omicron coronavirus variant are encouraging.
Fauci told CNN’s Jake Tapper that it is “too early to really make any definitive statements” about the variant first detected in South Africa, which led to a spike in new cases. Yet despite a “transmission advantage,” it “does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it”
“But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that [omicron] is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness comparable to delta. But, thus far, the signals are a bit encouraging regarding the severity. But, again, you got to hold judgment until we get more experience,” Fauci said.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a letter to citizens Monday that new cases have “increased five-fold” over the last week and continued to push COVID-19 vaccines ahead of a potential fourth wave.
“South Africa now has sufficient supplies of vaccines and we have vaccine stations set up in every part of the country,” he said. “As every day passes, and as infections rise, the reasons to get vaccinated become more compelling and the need becomes ever more urgent.”
Meanwhile, Fauci reiterated his call on Sunday for Americans to get boosters as the new variant has been confirmed in at least 16 states, adding that “boosters are going to be critical in determining whether or not we’re going to be able to handle this.” Fauci noted that experts “feel certain” boosters will offer some level of protection against the omicron variant.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows around 23 percent of eligible U.S. residents have received a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
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